With a history that goes back 30 years, the Landcare name has become a core pillar in many regional towns.
There are over 60,000 Landcare members across Victoria – including many farmers with large private properties and community groups that look after public spaces.
The Victorian Government plays a crucial role in helping Landcare Victoria members manage private and public land. It provides both funding and resources to encourage Landcare groups to practice sustainable land management and increase biodiversity.
In 2015, Landcare Victoria began a series of investigations into its communications channels, including their existing website, quarterly publication (with a readership over 25,000) and social media channels.
We were approached with a brief to combine these channels into a single digital solution. It was clear they needed much more than a new website – they required a holistic solution that not only improved communication but strengthened the ability of people within the community to perform their jobs.
A membership of 60,000 requires a unique approach to community consultation. In order to create a solution that meets the needs of such a large community, we utilised a number of research and co-design methods to elicit deliberate and useful information.
We travelled 1,163 kilometres, visited 15 regional Victorian towns and involved 195 people from the Landcare community in a range of activities, including one-on-one interviews, stakeholder workshops, online surveys, prototype testing and design testing.
After speaking to a wide range of members, a major theme stood out: government-funded ‘facilitators’ were making a huge difference in the Landcare Victoria community. For many groups the facilitators were a critical success factor, helping groups apply for grants, organise weekly meetings and connect to other parts of the system.
This insight led us to develop a vision for the new digital solution: it should operate as an online facilitator.
This single future vision was presented to key stakeholders within the Landcare Victoria community as well as senior government staff. Doing this allowed all stakeholders (from our direct team to the Deputy Secretary) to understand the needs and wishes of the community and how the new solution would enable the community to function to its potential.
Another major objective of the website redesign was to transition their printed publication (the Victorian Landcare Magazine) to a digital platform.
The magazine is an incredibly well-edited and insightful resource for the community. Published quarterly, it features stories written by members from across Victoria, sharing knowledge, successes and failures.
It was important to us that the magazine play a key role in the new website. We wanted to release each story from the confines of a single printed publication and give it new life – both with a new audience on social media and a new purpose attached to resources or group profiles.
With a short timeframe and a hard deadline (the website launched at the 2016 National Conference) it was important we created a strong agile framework for designing and building the website.
To do this, we implemented two very important project activities: a community ‘champion’ group and a dedicated project room.
The champion group featured representative members from the Landcare Victoria community. The group met once a week during the course of the project to make decisions and keep the project in line with community values.
The project room allowed us to meet in a dedicated space where work was shared on the surrounding walls. Working this way allowed us to collaborate with the champion group as the work was being done, rather than hiding everything away inside reports or documents no one would read.
The new Landcare Victoria website was launched in September 2016 at the National Landcare Conference. Not only is it easy-to-use and fully responsive, but now gives groups a simple front-end interface for uploading and editing information – a first for the community.
Beyond ease-of-use, Landcare Victoria now has an integrated digital solution matched to their core business objectives, ensuring they can continue to monitor, measure and adapt the solution as the community continues to grow and change into the future.
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